Nike has officially filed a lawsuit against a hemp company from Texas for riffing off the sportswear’s famous phrase. The hemp company’s slogan is “Just Hemp It,” which is clearly a play on Nike’s trademarked saying.
The company is Revive Farming Technologies. The owners initially filed a trademark application for “Just Hemp It” back in 2019. And although the company filled out the application and requested that the US Patent and Trademark Office give them exclusive rights to use this phrase on CBD vape carts, hemp clothing, paper products, and a variety of merch, the patent office never granted them the trademark. Despite this, however, Revive proudly displays its slogan on its website with a trademark symbol. Yikes.
The chances of receiving the trademark are officially slim to none now. Not because the company says its “Just Hemp It” slogan is trademarked, but rather because Nike already filed a complaint asking the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to deny the company’s proposed trademark registration, earlier this month. Nike’s attorneys argue that their “Just Do It” trademark is “widely recognized and famous” and “has been in use in commerce for more than 30 years, and registered for more than 25 years,” according to Green Market Report.
Obviously, Nike has used this phrase on TV and in print ads, it’s branded on T-shirts, bags, and almost every product it sells — it’s been this way since 1988. This slogan – which was apparently taken from the final words of a death row inmate – has inspired dozens of knockoffs since then. In 1992, Nike went after a rival athletic company whose catchphrase was “Just Did It.” More recently, however, Nike challenged another business for using the phrase “Just Believe It.” They really don’t want anyone using the likeness of their all-holy phrase.
Nike obviously has the power in most situations, considering it’s a multi-billion dollar company. Even still, its attorneys aren’t shy about going after small business owners. In 2020, the company sent a cease and desist letter to a small California succulent shop called “Just Succ It.” With all that money, it seems like Nike has lawyers policing every nook and cranny of the world to ensure no one else is using the phrase. It’s silly, but Nike has successfully defended its trademark on nearly all these occasions. Although the trademark appeal board has yet to decide the case with “Just Hemp It,” they will likely choose to deny Revive’s application. (It was a bad omen for the brand to say the phrase was already trademarked!)
This type of legal challenge isn’t new. In fact, it’s one of the many hurdles the cannabis and hemp industries have had to overcome in the shift to becoming a legal market. There have already been many trademark disputes between cannabis companies and established corporations. Kool cigarettes just won a lawsuit against a legal California weed company that copied the interlocking “OOs” from its popular logo. The company that makes Gorilla Glue has sued legal weed producers who market weed strains under that popular name, and Girl Scouts of America have also sued dispensaries for selling “Girl Scout Cookies” strains. So this issue is a nightmare.
But cannabis brands love to come up with puns based on candy companies’ most popular products — many of which happen to define culture. That’s why those big corporations are ready to throw down and defend their intellectual property. Many of those brands, too, are made for children, adding an extra kick of motivation to defend those brands. For instance, the Ferrara candy company has sued dozens of companies for knocking off its “Nerds Rope” candies, and Hershey’s has gone after products like “Mr. Dankbar” and “Reefer’s Peanut Butter Cups.” Mars Inc. went as far as sending private investigators to buy knockoff Skittles edibles, and followed up by suing the stores that sold these products.
Needless to say, this issue isn’t a new one. We’ve seen it many times. Hopefully, the Texas-based Revive Farming Technologies can find another slogan that aptly fits its brand.